Persuasive Essay

Due by Monday, November 18, 2019 by 5pm

Annotated Assignment Guidelines

By Monday, November 18, students will submit a short persuasive essay (4 to 6 pages, typed, double-spaced) that presents an argument for how to improve the commemoration of Dickinson & Slavery using at least one specific figure as a central example.

  • A sample thesis statement might look like this:  “Dickinson should not only re-name its residence halls after longtime African American employees like George Norris, but also the school should go even further and commit to developing a reparations fund to undo the damage of decades of discrimination.”
  • Or an alternative view might look like this:  “James Buchanan’s complicated legacy proves that Dickinson College should be far more cautious about any movement toward renaming buildings or removing memorials out of some well-meaning but misguided effort to confront the stain of slavery.”

Students are encouraged but not required to use the same subject from their earlier biographical essay or creative writing exercise.   Students should discuss their example subject and other examples within the context of broader issues raised in the Dickinson & Slavery report.

  • There are a number of sources that students could use to help accomplish this contextual effort in addition to the Dickinson & Slavery report (August 2019):
    • The second part of the Slavery & the University collection, which includes several essays about the contested experiences at other institutions of higher learning.
    • The 1619 project from the New York Times (and the public debate it generated) as a way to understand how to frame or reframe aspects of American history and memory around the legacy of slavery.
    • Current events articles and commentary that might be obtained by searching Google News, the library’s newspaper subscription databases, or the Twitter feed of the House Divided Project.

Essays should be formatted in Word or PDF with title page and Chicago-style footnotes.  No bibliography or source analysis is required.

  • Remember to use all of the resources on this site’s Methods page, especially the models for footnote format
  • If you have not already visited the Writing Center, then this is the assignment when you should definitely do so.

Essays will be graded on research, analysis and prose.  Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points per day.